Wednesday 18 November 2015

Sorry, not sorry

Not so long ago I described something as being “a bit mental” and it’s quite possible I will do again. I probably shouldn’t, we’re better than that and in the wrong context (every context?) it can be construed as offensive.

There is though - and I may be flattering myself here - a big gap between my fault and that of Ken Livingstone. Today, the former Mayor of London described a political opponent as being “obviously very depressed and disturbed” and needing “psychiatric help”. And all because Kevan Jones (same party, but it’s difficult to tell) had suggested Ken wasn’t up to his new job. This would sound like the usual rough and tumble of politics were it not for Jones’s known history of depression; something he had spoken about in the House of Commons.

Livingstone did apologise, but only after much strong arming from Jeremy Corbyn, then watered it down in a television head-to-head with the standard “sorry if you’re offended” non-apology, suggesting that, anyway, the other guy had started it. I could have left it at one politician saying something unpleasant about another - it happens all the time, it’s a democracy in ‘rude health’ - were it not for an earlier claim to be unaware of Jones’s mental health condition. This was plausible enough in itself, but when accompanied with some vague reference to not having been around Parliament for some years felt like an embellishment too far.

The function of prayer

"The function of prayer", wrote Søren Kierkegaard, "is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays". Maybe, just maybe, that's why some choose prayer in times such as these. So enough with the snarking over "pray for Paris"; it may not be my way, but if it helps others it would be intolerant of me to say "no". And I'm pretty sure that, if anything, it's intolerance, not religion, that's at the "root of all evil".

Saturday 5 September 2015

Jeremy Corbyn Top Trumps

Isis and the U.S military (on state-controlled Russia Today), the World Trade Centre and Bin Laden's death (on Iran’s Press TV), the IRA and the British army... One would be bad enough, but the soon-to-be-leader of the Labour party, often using/used by the state apparatus of some dubious regime, has a serial inability to condemn one without the other, and in doing so is surely condemning his own party to ignominious defeat in 2020.

Were it not for his election on the back of a large number of recent ‘registered and affiliated supporters’ I’d say they deserve it. As it is, I will actually feel sorry for them. They might be the official opposition, but it will be a joke opposition akin to Militant Tendency in the 1980s. And the Government, or the more stupid elements within, emboldened by the clear path before them, will become more intemperate. I don’t think that was the plan.

Friday 22 May 2015


It might have been the first time we met, it was dinner at his house, in total we were four and at one point he stood up behind his chair to tear into the Conservatives, party and supporters alike, before adding with a gesture in my direction “present company excepted”. I turned to my partner and remarked “Do you know, I think he’s beginning to warm to me!” Maybe, but it was certainly true to say I’d warmed to him.

We met many times, often talking politics, occasionally agreeing, always enjoying the sparring involved. Most recently was the Saturday after the election for one of the most enjoyable evenings I can remember.

The following Wednesday he died, and every sentence since is charged with unintended meaning. I'm sensible to the obvious truth that others will be hurting more, yet I will miss my new friend.

Julian Barnes wrote “the fact that someone is dead may mean that they are not alive, but doesn't mean that they do not exist”. Paul cared about the things that matter; there was a genuine concern for the disadvantaged, love for his family, compassion underneath an acerbic wit. That first night as we were leaving he said to his wife, and loud enough for all to hear “Make sure they’re gone”.

He can still make me smile.

Friday 13 March 2015

Fighting one silly argument with another

If I suggested that our current record levels of employment were related to equality legislation then some might call me out on such a ridiculous claim. And my offence wouldn’t be lessened if it were in response to a claim from a less reputable source that some UK employers aren’t hiring due to said legislation.

There is some anecdotal evidence for the latter, but whether the problem is perceived or real isn’t really the point. Every time you make a foolish point arguing against UKIP, it has the unfortunate effect of making UKIP look less foolish.

Sunday 8 March 2015

Ed the Brave

Worrying though it is to see television broadcasters attempting to dictate the terms of democratic debate – in that they must be on television – I could hardly blame a leader of the opposition in attempting to make capital of the Prime Minister’s refusal to dance. I do however object to his latest promise to enshrine in law such a requirement. This is an idea so stupid that the silence on Twitter, whose left-wing contingent are certainly not reticent in backing stupid ideas, was deafening.

Not even an article in The Guardian newspaper, whose loyalty in towing the party line is something to behold, was enough to save Ed Miliband, and this despite finding (and one can only imagine how hard they must have tried) a professor in support. Unfortunately said professor fatally undermined their argument by mentioning Prime Minister’s Question Time, which despite the raucous and occasionally vacuous nature of such occasions provides exactly what’s being asked for, only differing in being less polite, albeit a more accurate representation of our political representatives.

What’s really frightening though is how easily an irrelevant issue such as this can show the authoritarian side of the Labour party. If they’re prepared to legislate on something that the public are more than capable of judging for themselves, one wonders what other decisions they’ll decide to take out of our hands.